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NEC technology estimates infrastructure damage using video images - Paving the way for safe, secure and efficient infrastructure maintenance -

*** For immediate use December 9, 2014

Tokyo, December 9, 2014
- NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) has developed the world's first (*1) technology capable of measuring and estimating internal deterioration of road bridges and other types of infrastructure based on video images of the surface taken by camera.

The technology uses NEC's unique, world-class video and image processing technology to capture, measure and analyze surface vibrations in road bridges and other types of infrastructure, to enable internal deterioration, from issues such as cracks, flaking or cavities, to be estimated. This will make it possible to detect deteriorating infrastructure at an earlier stage and prioritize repairs more efficiently. It is also designed to lower diagnostic costs by 90% (*2) compared to conventional methods, by reducing the need to perform onsite visual or hammering tests, erect scaffolding to inspect structures, or impose traffic restrictions on roads.

Road bridges and other types of infrastructure throughout the world are approaching their renewal date, based on an assumed life span of 50 years. Reducing the associated maintenance costs is therefore becoming a pressing issue. It may be possible to extend the life spans of these structures by switching management techniques from "corrective maintenance" to "preventive maintenance," based on pre-emptive reinforcements rather than carrying out repairs after an incident has occurred. According to estimates compiled by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, for example, this would enable the cost of maintaining and renewing road bridges throughout Japan by approximately \1.7 trillion over the course of the next 50 years. To achieve the preventive maintenance, it necessitates more frequent inspections of road bridges in order to identify and repair the causes of deterioration before any incidents occur.

It will also be necessary to carry out detailed examinations to determine internal deterioration of structures. As it stands, this requires workers to attend the site and perform visual or hammering tests, which in turn involves measures such as erecting scaffolding to carry out inspections, as well as imposing traffic restrictions. As this requires a great deal of time and money, there is a growing need to reduce associated costs.

This newly developed technology has been made possible thanks to NEC's expertise in video and image processing, built up through the development of world-class technologies such as "super-resolution technology," "video and image sharpening technology" and "4K ultra high definition video compression technology."

The key features of this technology are as follows.

  1. Simultaneous measurement of micro-vibrations at multiple points over structure surface
    NEC has developed a unique "object vibration measurement algorithm" capable of quickly and precisely detecting micro-vibrations in structures based on video images. Analyzing micro-vibrations requires "movement analysis with 100x camera resolution." Whereas it would previously have taken time to analyze and process such a large volume of data, NEC has tapped into expertise in areas such as video compression to speed up that process. This makes it possible to efficiently analyze video shot at a higher frame rate, enabling simultaneous measurement of micro-vibrations at multiple points over the structure surface.

  2. Estimation of internal deterioration based on surface vibrations
    NEC has developed a unique "vibration correlation analysis algorithm" capable of identifying and detecting differences in vibration patterns at points where internal deterioration is occurring due to issues such as cracks, flaking or cavities. This makes it possible to precisely estimate the extent of deterioration inside structures, something that would be impossible by sight alone.

"As this new technology will enable us to estimate deterioration inside structures based on camera footage, it will hopefully reduce missed business opportunities due to issues such as temporary closure of facilities for testing," said Shigeki Yamagata, general manager, Information and Media Processing Labs at NEC. "In addition to roads bridges and other types of infrastructure, we hope to apply this technology to areas such as large-scale equipment inside plants and factories. We are currently working on testing at NEC and are aiming to commercialize this technology by the end of fiscal 2015."



(*1) As of December 9, 2014, NEC believes that this is the world's first attempt to measure surface vibrations and estimate internal conditions (cracks, flaking, cavities, etc.) based on video images.

(*2) NEC estimate

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